Bardiani CSF criticized the UCI's decision to ban the Italian Pro Continental team for 30 days following the positive anti-doping tests for two riders last month, saying in a statement that the action "exceedingly penalizes those who have no responsibilities, such as the Team and other riders, in front of deplorable actions of foolish people." The team did not, however, decide to appeal the ban.
The UCI announced before the Giro d'Italia that Bardiani CSF riders Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi had been issued adverse analytical findings (AAFs) for GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs) in out-of-competition controls taken on April 25 and 26, respectively.
Their anti-doping rule violations were confirmed by the B-sample analysis weeks later, and both were fired from the team while Bardiani CSF competed in the Giro d'Italia.
The UCI announced on Tuesday that the disciplinary commission decided to ban the team for 30 days from June 14, 2017, through July 14.
In the team's Tuesday statement, Bardiani CSF claimed it had already suffered damage to its reputation, and a shorter suspension would have been more appropriate.
"In light of the damages already suffered during 100th Giro d’Italia to its image and to its sport performance, racing since the beginning with seven riders, and with specific reference to the innovative and distinctive #GreenTeam sport project, never involved in cases of violations of UCI anti-doping rules and official investigations so far, the team considers a lower duration more appropriate."
Kittel returns from altitude training to lead Quick-Step at Ster ZLM
A four-time stage winner in the event, Kittel will be making his first racing start since mid-May, having gone from the Amgen Tour of California to an altitude training camp in Colorado.
As Kittel aims to sharpen his sprinting form ahead of the Tour de France, neo-pros Rémi Cavagna and Maximilian Schachmann and Dutch veteran Niki Tersptra will be among the team's options for the prologue and the attacker-friendly days.
Quick-Step Floors for the Ster ZLM Toer: Rémi Cavagna, Laurens De Plus, Iljo Keisse, Marcel Kittel, Fabio Sabatini, Maximilian Schachmann, Niki Terpstra
Greipel headlines Lotto Soudal for Ster ZLM Toer
André Greipel will headline Lotto Soudal's line-up at the Ster ZLM Toer, where he has found plenty of success in recent years. The overall victor in 2015, Greipel has also collected numerous stage victories and points jerseys in the Dutch event of his career.
The 34-year-old German will have fellow fast finishers Jasper De Buyst and 2015 stage winner Moreno Hofland for company in the race, providing Lotto Soudal with multiple cards to play on the mostly flat parcours.
"André Greipel had to pass for the Hammer Series due to illness and got back in competition in Rund um Köln on Sunday. For three hours the pace was very high, but André didn’t have any problems. In the Ster ZLM Toer he can continue his Tour preparation. With the Tour in mind he will probably want to ride a good prologue," said sport director Bart Leyson.
"André is also someone who dares to take control of the race and can make the race hard. This week he could help out a teammate who is standing high on GC, by taking away bonus seconds from the opponents or by helping him to gain the seconds. André won’t be our only sprinter this week, we also have Jasper and Moreno in the team. But we will definitely do a real lead-out for André at least once this week."
Lotto Soudal for the Ster ZLM Toer: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Jasper De Buyst, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Moreno Hofland, Marcel Sieberg, Enzo Wouters
No single leader for BMC at Route du Sud
Having shown fine form with a stage win and a few top finishes in his home stage race, the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg, Jean-Pierre Drucker will target the pair of possible sprint finishes on tap in southern France on the second and fourth days of the race. Silvan Dillier, Samuel Sánchez and Manuel Senni may factor on the more climber-friendly first and third stages.
"The two mountain stages are really tough, especially stage 3, but Manuel Senni showed he was climbing well at the Giro d'Italia and I want all of the riders to see what they can do" said BMC sport director Yvon Ledanois. "We will keep an eye on possible breakaways and take things day by day. We're definitely looking more at stage wins than the general classification."
BMC for the Route du Sud: Silvan Dillier, Jempy Drucker, Floris Gerts, Samuel Sánchez, Miles Scotson, Manuel Senni, Dylan Teuns, Loïc Vliegen